The national championship picture is one of the ongoing debates of every college football season. This season is no different. But with so many games canceled or postponed last weekend, there were not too many that stood to impact the championship picture.
What is always important to remember about the championship picture is that it doesn’t matter how a team plays during the season. All that matters is that a team makes the college football playoffs.
Once you get there, any team can win.
Last season, LSU became the first team ranked No. 1 going into the playoffs, to go on to win the national championship. Alabama was ranked No. 2 and 4 for its wins; they lost both times they were ranked No. 1. Ohio State was ranked No. 4 and Clemson No. 2 for both of their CFP championships.
During the regular season, all that really matters is playing well enough to make the playoffs. So, who is going to do it?
College Football Playoff Odds: Not As Simple As You May Think
Sportsbooks have been carrying odds on teams to win the national championship all season. But with the season underway and several contenders having emerged, many have started to thin the herd a little and ask a different question.
Who is going to make the playoffs?
For most of the season, it would have been an easy question to answer. But with Clemson losing last week and the surprising emergence of Indiana— the only apparent roadblock to Ohio State – the answer to that question is up for debate.
Brigham Young (Yes +900, No -10000) and Cincinnati (Yes +400, No -1000) fans want to think their teams deserve a shot. If this had been a typical season and they had dominated a few Power Five teams in their non-conference games—maybe. But neither has the kind of signature win that is necessary even to be considered for the Playoffs.
Alabama (Yes -1000, No +450) appears to be in pretty good shape. As usual, Nick Saban reloaded where he needed to, and the Crimson Tide have been dominating whoever they play. However, they do have a couple of trap games left on their schedule.
If they do not take care of business against a sneaky Auburn team and then lose to Florida in the SEC title game, they will be watching the national championship game at home. For Florida (Yes +190, No -305) to make it in, they will need to beat Alabama in the SEC title game.
With how Kyle Trask is dissecting defenses this year, they might do it. Should they do so, Alabama could still make it in as long as that game is their only loss.
College Football Playoff Odds for Ohio State and the ACC Situation
As for Ohio State (Yes -1000, No +450), the road to the playoffs is clear. Indiana appears to be the only team standing in their way to the Big Ten championship game—and the Buckeyes are 20.5-point favorites.
Where things will get interesting is if they lose the Big Ten title game to Northwestern or Nebraska. It would only be one loss, but their schedule is not a challenging one.
But the most significant question mark is the team favored to win the national championship for most of the season—Clemson. After losing to Notre Dame a few weeks ago, they have zero room for error. They will need to run the table and beat Notre Dame in the ACC title game.
Fans will look at that game and blame the loss on the absence of Trevor Lawrence. But quarterback play did not lose the game. Their defense had no answer for the Notre Dame offense.
If the favorites win out, then the decision will be an easy one for the CFP committee. But if anyone loses one or two games down the stretch, things could get very messy. If Clemson loses the ACC title game to Notre Dame, the door could be wide open for Texas A&M to walk through.
Should Alabama lose to Florida in the SEC title game, which one-loss SEC team gets in? Many would say Alabama still, but Florida fans would have a good argument. If Florida starts to gain steam, then Texas A&M may have something to say about that.
A Notre Dame loss to Clemson in the ACC title game could open a door for Texas A&M, as well.
Of course, if anyone inside the top four were to lose a game they shouldn’t, then every scenario is a wash. Heck, should that happen, and Florida and Texas A&M lose a second game, the door might crack open for BYU or Cincinnati.
We might even see a two-loss team make it in for the first time in CFP history.